May 13, 2013
Trust is an issue that underpins many elements of our daily lives. If we trust a friend or co-worker, for example, we feel secure in the belief that they will treat us fairly and respect our interests. This situation is no different in the realm of the data center. Securing and operating these facilities is a key element of their ability to deliver the level of performance for which they were intended. As a result, it is important for prospective data center customers to understand their options when it comes to operational and security personnel.
In many instances your choices as to the personnel that will support your data center, yours or the providers, is a function of the facility itself. Monolithic modular data centers, whether they be data hall or pre-fabricated module based, are both maintained by the provider’s personnel. Since these are shared facilities, the operational and security staffs support all of the building’s customers. In these environments, the end user has limited to no control over the certification requirements or training of the individuals who will be maintaining the site. The scheduling of maintenance is also an issue in these structures. As in most areas of life bigger is better, as a result, the maintenance schedules are typically dictated by the requirements of the site’s largest customer. In view of these considerations, prospective customers should ask potential providers for a detailed description of the training and certification process used for all operations employees and the scheduling process that will be used to maintain your data center’s critical components to ensure that they are compatible with your requirements.
In container-based or pre-fabricated solutions the customer is responsible for the operation and security of their data center. This is an important consideration for prospective customers. In making the decision to use their own personnel customers should have a clear understanding of the components that will be used at their site. Included among these considerations would be: component manufacturers, who will train your personnel or will you contract with the individual component manufacturers, what type of written documentation is provided, who maintains responsibility for equipment maintenance contracts, and does the provider offer any training on the elements of their solution that is unique to them. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it does demonstrate that the decision to use a solution that dictates the use of personnel that you must provide is more complex than it may initially appear. The need for customer provided operational employees will also have an impact on ancillary issues like the location of the data center and a company’s employment requirements (and budgets) in relation to available personnel.
As they are dedicated to a single customer, standalone data centers do not require that operations and security personnel be shared with other customers. Customers also have the option to use their own security and operations employees to support the facility or contract with the provider to perform these functions. This provides the customer with a true cost alternative and also enables them to control the site maintaining their own processes and procedures if they desire while using their own techs and engineers.
Understanding who will operate your data center and how it will be operated are important elements of making a data center decision. It can affect not only the provider you select, but where you choose to locate the facility. Since the type of data center you select is tied directly to your operations and security, one needs to determine who to trust: your company or the provider.